The student council president, vice president and representatives of each college met with president Kim Hei-sook at a private meeting held on Nov. 28. Kim joined the table alongside Vice President for Student Affairs in the presence of other administrative staff to discuss issues the Student Government Association (SGA) have raised.
Although Kim urged representatives to freely exchange ideas on the table, most of the meeting was spent on double-checking arguments SGA had made on papers that were already sent to respective offices. SGA representatives spoke in an aggressive tone throughout the meeting, making it clear they had no intention of compromising. Kim reacted on a defensive note and was hesitant to provide concrete answers.
Reducing chapel sessions: highly unlikely
“Back in my day, we went to chapel three times a week,” president Kim said. “Now, students go to chapel eight times a semester, and the sessions are no longer in the form of church service. For now, it is unlikely that we would further reduce this number.”
Kim also mentioned that chapel is one of the key factors that form Ewha’s identity.
“Students were informed of the fact that Ewha is a Methodist school from their enrollment,” she added. “Some students complain because chapel sessions are not held in the form of service. We have to acknowledge that different opinions exist among students.”
Accusations regarding general curriculum reforms
Ever since the school announced plans to reduce liberal arts courses and add mandatory coding courses, SGA have raised suspicions that the school was using the amended Instructor Law as an excuse to push ahead these reforms for the sake of earning funds.
President Kim replied firmly that this is an over-interpretation of the school’s intentions.
“I believe we have already provided all the facts regarding the recent Instructor Law,” president Kim said. “When we communicate, we must first assume that one’s counterpart is speaking the truth. If we start doubting this basic premise, that is indeed the end of our communication.”
New measures regarding visitor control
On hearing student discomfort over increasing cases of tourist intrusion, Vice President for General Administration explained they are planning to designate certain areas off-limits for tourists, and appoint guards for patrols in those areas.
The SGA representative for student environment suggested that the school should consider making more use of existing tour programs of the Information Centre to control and keep track of tourists.
Communication issues remain
During the meeting, both sides continued to express disappointment in their lack of meaningful communication.
“It’s a shame that this kind of meeting is held at the last week of our term,” said Lee Min-ha, president of General Student Council. “Next year, we hope the president would have a meeting with the SGA during the first semester.”
“While meeting with other students, I was surprised to see that they were basically repeating the same content the SGA was saying, when I was hoping to hear more diverse ideas,” president Kim said. “I look forward to listening to more diverse opinions from students, and I hope the SGA will be open to students freely giving their ideas.”
As her final remark, president Kim brought up a student who committed suicide last month on campus. Expressing her deep concern that this issue had not been brought up by the SGA, she urged students to take care of one’s mental health and be compassionate toward fellow students.
However, the SGA replied that this rare meeting should focus on discussing practical issues at the presence of administrative staff and expressed their disappointment that President Kim had casted doubt on the necessity of this meeting, saying that she had not understood why the SGA had continuously insisted on holding this meeting.